Big Ten Basketball: Weekend Preview

Rob WunschCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2008

Iowa (11-13, 4-7) @ Minnesota (14-7, 4-5), 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

Minnesota cruised by Northwestern 92-72 in Evanston on Wednesday night. The Gophers had a 47-33 lead at halftime, fueled by a late 13-2 run at the end of the first half. Kevin Coble was 9-18 from the field and led the Gophers with 22 points. 

Minnesota can get back to .500 in the conference with a win over Iowa on Saturday.  Iowa, on the other hand, lost any momentum they may have had after their victory over Ohio State. Both teams have shooters on the wing, however, this game will be decided in the paint. Gorney, the Iowa senior center, has back-to-back 10 point games. Tollackson, the Minnesota senior center, had 19 points in his last game against Northwestern. Iowa has problems getting points in crunch time. I expect Minnesota to feed off the home crowd and coast to victory in the last few minutes of the game. 


Penn State (11-11, 3-7) @ Michigan (5-17, 1-9), 4 p.m. ET, BTN

Penn State only trailed at half 33-30 at Purdue on Tuesday night. Penn State got cold from the field and the Boilermakers enjoyed a 56-43 lead with just over five minutes to go. Freshman forward Robbie Hummel is becoming a star for the surprising Boilermakers. He had 17 points in the win over Penn State. 

Michigan had a five-point lead over Ohio State in the second half on Tuesday night.  A 20-5 run by Ohio State to end the game gave Michigan their sixth straight loss. 

This game is a toss-up. Both teams struggle with long scoring droughts. Penn State is banged up with injuries. Michigan is on a six-game “moral victory” streak. Michigan finally snaps a six-game losing streak. 


Northwestern (7-13, 0-9) @ Michigan State (19-3, 7-2), 7 p.m. ET, BTN

If there is a game on the Big Ten schedule that teams can pencil in a win, it is against Northwestern. Winless-Northwestern is dead last in almost every statistical category in the Big Ten.

Michigan State has had the entire week to rebound from the upset to Penn State last Saturday. Drew Neitzel, senior guard, struggled from the field against the Lions, finishing with six points on 2-10 shooting. In his previous six games, he scored in double figures. 

Michigan State is angry and will jump out early on the Wildcats. The Wildcats better enjoy pre-game introductions: This game will be over right after the opening tip. 


Purdue (18-5, 9-1) @ Wisconsin (19-3, 9-1), 9 p.m. ET, BTN

Purdue is one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten. They recorded their eight straight win over Penn State on Tuesday and are atop the Big Ten standings as of Friday.

Wisconsin is hot as well. The Badgers are on a three-game winning streak and have won 13 of 14 games. Wisconsin’s last loss was at Purdue, 60-56. 

This is a dream matchup for the Big Ten Network. The winner of this game will have the inside track on the Big Ten title. Purdue’s young team has quite a challenge in front of them. Purdue must avoid scoring droughts and compete with the Badgers on the boards. 

Wisconsin will win this game by a comfortable margin. The crowd and the experienced Badgers will be too much for Painter’s young Boilermakers. 


Indiana (19-3, 8-1) @ Ohio State (16-7, 7-3), 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Ohio State used a 20-5 run to get by Michigan on Tuesday night. Othello Hunter had 15 points, and 12 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes over Michigan. Ohio State had five players in double figures and made plays in crunch time to outlast the Wolverines.

Indiana beat Illinois 83-79 in a double over-time thriller at Assembly Hall on Thursday night.  Illinois had several chances at the charity stripe to beat Indiana. Shaun Pruitt missed a free throw with four seconds left in regulation. Pruitt also missed a pair of free throws in in the first overtime with only two seconds left. Armon Bassett scored 11 of Indiana’s 14 points in the second overtime. Bassett was 8-8 from the free-throw line.

Indiana starts a brutal four-game stretch against Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Purdue. If Indiana wants to keep pace with Wisconsin and Purdue, they need to win on Sunday. 

Ohio State can keep its Big Ten title hopes alive with a win on Sunday. Ohio State can also get off the tournament bubble with a win.

This game is huge for both teams. Ohio State will need to contain Eric Gordon and make him settle for jump shots. Ohio State has to control the defensive boards and limit Indiana’s second chance points.

I give the edge to Ohio State in this one just because the game is in Columbus.